Canadian Security Intelligence Service

Created in 1984, Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) has the responsibility to ensure Canada’s national security by investigating threats, analyzing information and producing intelligence. CSIS also helps prevent individuals that present a security threat from entering the country, receiving permanent resident status/citizenship or gaining access to Canadian information, sites or assets.

In 2013–2014, CSIS received significantly more requests than during the previous reporting period, an increase from 488 requests to 903 (+85%). This increase seems to be largely due to a large volume of informal requests for previously released ATI requests that were included in the requests treated informally.Footnote 1 As a result, it is difficult to accurately assess CSIS’ performance during the reporting period, especially in terms of timeliness (as it usually takes a shorter period of time to complete request for previously released ATI requests).

CSIS completed 903 of the 964 requests in its inventory in 2013–2014, a completion rate of 95%, compared to 88% in 2012–2013.

Requests received in 2013–2014 came principally from the public (41%), the media (31%) and academia (18%).

Table 1. Workload

Measures Reporting Period
Reporting Period
Number of requests received 488 903 85.04%
Number of consultations received (from other government institutions) 290 317 9.31%
Average number of pages processed per request completed 133 173 40
% of requests for which more than 1,000 pages were processed 1.86% 4.95% 3.09%
Note: The average number of pages processed per request completed and the percentage of requests for which more than 1,000 pages were processed are calculated from the total of requests completed for which the information was disclosed (in part or totally), exempted/excluded and for requests abandoned. It excludes requests completed for the following dispositions: no records exist, requests transferred and requests treated informally.

In terms of volume of pages processed, there were proportionally more pages per request completed in 2013–2014 (173 pages/request) than in 2012–2013 (133 pages/request). About 4.95% of the completed requests required processing more than 1,000 pages, compared to 1.86% in 2012–2013.


A total of 772 requests were completed within 30 days in 2013–2014, representing 84.3% of all requests completed. In comparison, this proportion was 61.7% in 2012–2013. This high proportion achieved in 2013–2014 is due mostly to requests treated informally: when excluding those requests, CSIS completed 62.28% of its requests in 30 days or less. Similarly, the proportion of requests completed in more than 120 days, which was 6%, increased to 19.57% when excluding the requests treated informally.

CSIS maintained the proportion of requests completed past their statutory or extended deadline below 5% in both 2012–2013 (0.63%) and 2013–2014 (1.2%). This represents an “A” grade.Footnote 2 All late requests had been extended.


In 2013–2014, CSIS took 106 extensions to complete 916 requests, a ratio of 0.12 extensions per request completed. This ratio was of 0.18 extension per request completed in 2012–2013. As Figure 1 shows, extensions are for longer periods of time.

Figure 1. Length of extensions (2011–2012 to 2013–2014)

Figure 1. Length of extensions (2011–2012 to 2013–2014)

Text version

Figure 1 is a bar chart with vertical bars, representing the length of extensions taken by CSIS during each reporting period between 2011–2012 and 2013–2014. The results are as follows:

Reporting period 30 days or less 31-60 days 61-120 days 121-180 days 181-365 days More than 365 days
2011–2012 17.81% 13.70% 56.16% 10.96% 1.37% 0.00%
2012–2013 9.20% 25.29% 36.78% 22.99% 5.75% 0.00%
2013–2014 5.66% 12.26% 50.94% 26.42% 4.72% 0.00%

Most extensions were taken for consultations under paragraph 9(1)(b) in 2013–2014 (80% of the time) and for interference with operations under paragraph 9(1)(a) (19.8%).


Only 1 request (0.11%) was disclosed entirely in 2013–2014, compared to 4 requests (0.85%) in 2012–2013. Of 31,569 pages processed, CSIS disclosed 8,822 of them (27.95%). This is about 15% fewer pages than in 2012–2013. The proportion of pages that was disclosed entirely was also low (0.11% in 2013–2014).


In 2013–2014, a total of 796 exemptions and 42 exclusions were used to withhold information, representing 0.91 exemptions/exclusions per request completed. This proportion was significantly higher in 2013–2014 (1.27 exemptions/exclusions per request completed).

Frequently applied exemptions included: national defence, international affairs and subversive activities under 15(1) (202 times), law enforcement and investigations under 16(1) (196 times) and personal information under 19 (111 times). 

Table 2. Performance

Measures Reporting Period
Reporting Period
Completion of Requests
Completion rate 88.58% 95.02% 6.44%
Completion Time
% of requests completed within 30 days 61.73% 84.28% 22.55%
Average number of days to complete a request 45 26 -19
% of requests closed past statutory or extended deadline 0.63% 1.2% 0.57%
% of consultations from government institution completed within 30 days 36.39% 37.46% 1.07%
% of extensions of 30 days or less 9.20% 5.66% -3.54%
Level of Disclosure
% of pages processed that were disclosed 42.82% 27.95% -14.87%
% of requests completed for which the information was disclosed entirely 0.85% 0.11% -0.74%
% of pages disclosed entirely 11.75% 0.06% -11.69%
Number of exemptions/exclusions per request completed 1.27 0.91 -0.35

Other activities

During the reporting period, CSIS’s ATIP office continued to offer intra institutional advice and guidance on the access to information legislation. Consultation matters included information management issues, security of information, draft policies as well as proactive disclosure of information by CSIS.

CSIS also developed a video providing an overview of the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act. Watching this video is mandatory for all new employees.


The number of complaints received by the OIC against CSISFootnote 3 increased from 15 complaints in 2012–2013 to 20 in 2013–2014.

Refusal complaints accounted for 15 out of the 20 complaints received in 2013–2014. The remaining were related to administrative matters (5).

20 of these complaints were still pending (as of April 2015). Of the closed complaints, 4 were considered not well-founded and 1 was settled. An additional 6 were discontinued.


Footnote 1

Based on the TBS’s guide, requests that are treated informally are formal requests that have been discontinued for an informal treatment. The inclusion of requests for previously released ATI requests in the calculation impacts the overall performance indicators of the institution.

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Footnote 2

The 2007–2008 OIC report card grading system was used to estimate the grade: A=0 to 5%, B= 5 to 10%, C=10 to 15%, D=15% to 20%, F=more than 20%.

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Footnote 3

The numbers reported in this section are based on the OIC’s statistics. The information may not reflect the statistics reported by institutions due to the discrepancies in the methodology used.

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